Wondering why so many of your friends and relatives are going gluten-free these days? See below for the basics!
What The Heck is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, farro, durum, bulgar, and semolina. A critical ingredient for bread and other baked goods, it provides texture, chew, and crust.
What is celiac disease?
People suffering from celiac disease experience digestive trauma and pain when they consume any of the grains mentioned above. Continued consumption of gluten by these folks can cause severe damage to the small intestine, resulting in weight loss and a wide range of serious health issues. Celiac disease sufferers vary in their sensitivity to gluten, as some can handle cross contamination, while others must avoid even breathing in tiny bits of flour.
What is gluten sensitivity?
People suffering from gluten sensitivity experience a wide range of reactions to gluten, but without the intestinal damage. These symptoms range from brain fog and bloating, to infertility, mouth ulcers, migranes, skin issues, and joint inflammation.
I have some of these symptoms…should I try a gluten-free diet?
If you currently experience any of the above symptoms, it’s important to understand that they may not necessarily be related to gluten. However, for some people, eliminating gluten can significantly reduce or completely eliminate them.
If you suspect that gluten may be contributing to any of your symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss it. He or she may first request labs to screen for celiac disease. Screening for celiac disease can only be done while you are still consuming gluten.
Ok, I’m ready to try a gluten-free diet. Where do I begin?
Take it slowly. Transitioning to gluten free is a process. It takes time to learn what foods are inherently gluten free, what ingredients are dangerous, and what foods you prefer. A great place to start is our New To Gluten Free? and Frequently Asked Questions pages. There you’ll find safe food lists and meal strategies. Also take a look at our “Gluten-Free Living Section” to read personal stories and local hints on how to be gluten free and healthy right here in CT. When you’re ready to venture out to restaurants, use our gluten-free directory to find great gluten free near you. But remember – to do this right, you must balance your diet. Don’t just replace your treats with rice-based products. Wheat contains important fiber and proteins, and when you eliminate it, you must add in extra veggies and fiber to compensate. Who can’t benefit from a few extra vegetables, anyway?
Got questions? Contact us at the email address below!
www.glutenfreeconnecticut.com is the most comprehensive and up-to-date gluten-free resource in the state. It has a directory of close to 900 restaurants, bakeries, and businesses offering solid gluten-free options. For more information, contact Abby Helman Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org